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International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 552–561


A method for evaluating the heat and mass transfer

characteristics in a reversibly used water cooling tower
(RUWCT) for heat recovery
Kunxiong Tan, Shiming Deng*
Department of Building Services Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China
Received 1 April 2000; received in revised form 27 March 2001; accepted 4 April 2001

In sub-tropical regions, a standard water cooling tower may be reversibly used, as part of a desuperheater heat
recovery system for service hot water heating, to extract free heat from ambient air in colder seasons when building
cooling load is reduced. Chilled water is pumped into a reversibly used water cooling tower (RUWCT) where it is
heated by warmer ambient moist air. This paper presents a method by which the heat and mass transfer characteristics
in a counter-flow RUWCT can be evaluated. The method is developed by introducing to the Merkel’s equation for
standard water cooling towers the revisions that account for the differences in heat and mass transfer characteristics
between a water cooling tower and a RUWCT. Field experimental results from a RUWCT installed in a sub-tropical
region in China indicated that the method developed could be used to evaluate the thermal performance of a RUWCT
with an acceptable accuracy. # 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd and IIR. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Cooling tower; Mass transfer; Heat transfe; Calculation; Cooling; Heating; Reversible

Méthode permettant d’évaluer les caractéristiques de transfert

de chaleur et de masse dans une tour de refroidissement d’eau
utilisée également pour le chauffage d’eau
Dans les re´gions subtropicales, on peut utiliser les tours de refroidissement de façon re´versible pour fournir de l’eau
chaude sanitaire et pour extraire de la chaleur de l’air ambiant pendant les saisons les plus fraıˆches afin de re´duire la charge
thermique d’immeubles. On apporte de l’eau refroidie par pompage à la tour de refroidissement re´versible (RUWCT) où
cette eau est alors chauffe´e à l’aide de l’air humide ambiant plus chaud. Cet article pre´sente une me´thode permettant
d’e´valuer les caracte´ristiques de transfert de chaleur et de masse dans une RUWCT à e´coulement à contre-courant. Les
auteurs ont de´veloppe´ la me´thode à l’aide de l’e´quation de Merkel, en introduisant, pour les tours de refroidissement
classiques, des modifications tenant compte des diffe´rences entre les caracte´ristiques de transfert de chaleur et de masse
entre une tour de refroidissement et une RUWCT. Les re´sultats obtenus sur le terrain avec une RUWCT installe´e dans
une re´gion subtropicale chinoise indiquent que la me´thode de´veloppe´e pourrait eˆtre utilise´e afin d’e´valuer la performance
thermique d’une RUWCT avec une pre´cision acceptable. # 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd and IIR. All rights reserved.
Mots cle´s : Tour de refroidissement d’eau atmosphérique ; Transfert de masse ; Transfert de chaleur ; Calcul ; Refroidissement ;
Chauffage ; Réversibilité

* Corresponding author. Fax: +852-2774-6146.

E-mail addresses: besmd@polyu.edu.hk (S. Deng).

0140-7007/02/$22.00 # 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd and IIR. All rights reserved.
PII: S0140-7007(01)00044-5
K. Tan, S. Deng / International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 552–561 553

Nomenclature tdb Dry-bulb temperature of humid air ( C)

twb Wet-bulb temperature of humid air ( C)
am Surface area per unit tower volume for mass tref Reference temperature for 0 enthalpy of air
transfer (m2/m3) and water ( C), tref ffi 0.01 C
C Constant in Eq. (10) tw,n Measured outlet chilled water temperature
CMS Humid air flow rate (m3/s) ( C)
Ca Specific heat of humid air (kJ/kg C) tw,n0 Calculated outlet chilled water temperature
Cw Specific heat of water (kJ/kg C) ( C)
F Correction factor for the change of chilled V Tower volume (m3)
water flow rate w Air humidity ratio (kg/kg dry air)
G Dry air flow rate (kg/s) XN Constant in Eq. (10)
H Fill height (m)  Heat transfer coefficient for air film (kW/m2

h Air enthalpy (kJ/kg dry air) C)
hv Enthalpy of saturated water vapor at water  Mass transfer coefficient for air film (wa wi)
temperature tw (kJ/kg) (kg/m2 s)
hw Enthalpy of water at water temperature tw (kJ/  Difference in Table 1 and Table A1
kg), hw=Cw (twtref)ffiCwtw  Ratio of latent heat transfer to the total heat
m Mass flux (kg/m2s) transfer
L Chilled water flow rate (kg/s)
QT Total heat transfer rate (kW)
Qb Latent heat transfer rate (kW) Subscripts
QA Measured total heat exchange capacity (kW) 0 State of water and air entering a RUWCT
QA0 Calculated total heat exchange capacity (kW) a Humid air
r0 Latent heat of water at the reference dew Dew-point
temperature tref (kJ/kg) i Interface
tw Chilled water temperature ( C) n States of water and air leaving a tower
ta Humid air temperature at a level where water s Saturated
temperature is tw ( C) w Water

1. Introduction This paper presents a method by which the heat and

mass transfer characteristics in a counter-flow RUWCT
Using desuperheaters to recover heat from central can be evaluated. Three major differences in the heat
water chiller plants of building air-conditioning systems and mass transfer processes between a standard water
to generate service hot water might be possible in both cooling tower and a RUWCT have been identified. The
the tropics and subtropics. However, in sub-tropical method has been developed by introducing to the Mer-
regions during colder seasons, there may not be suffi- kel’s equation for water cooling towers the revisions that
cient heat to be recovered from buildings due to reduced account for these identified differences. Field experi-
building cooling load. In order to provide year-round mental results from a RUWCT installed in a sub-tropical
service hot water supply, backup water heating pro- region in China indicated that the method developed
visions, normally by electricity, are required. Given that could be used to evaluate the thermal performance of
in the subtropics in winter, ambient air temperature is RUWCT with an acceptable accuracy.
normally at around 15 C, a standard water cooling
tower may be operated to extract heat from ambient air
as a heat source for water heating in a desuperheater 2. Background
heat recovery system. Part of chilled water produced in
the chiller plant for air-conditioning at, say, 7 C is Until recently the performance of counter-flow water
pumped to the tower where the water is heated by cooling towers was evaluated using the so-called Merkel
ambient air to, say, 12 C. Since in colder seasons, an model [1]. The heat and mass transfer process taking
air-conditioning system is normally operated in part place in a RUWCT, where water is heated and air is
load condition, so that an existing water cooling tower cooled, is, however, opposite to that in a standard water
which might be idle can be used as a RUWCT. This is cooling tower. A RUWCT may be considered to operate
cost-effective as no additional cost for a water cooling in a similar way to a spray room or an air washer where
tower is required. air is cooled and dehumidified. A number of earlier
554 K. Tan, S. Deng / International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 552–561

studies on standard water cooling towers indicated that Oachs’ cooling tower study also indicated that 75% of
the calculation methodologies for cooling towers proved the total heat is in the form of latent heat [8]. However, it
valid for the analysis of heat and mass transfer in spray is expected latent heat exchange is less significant in the
rooms or air washers. For example, it is stated by heat gathering process of a RUWCT, as Norman et al.
Threlkeld that the governing Equation of a counter-flow found in their experiments that the mass transfer coeffi-
spray dehumidifier can be derived in a manner analo- cients for air cooling using refrigerated brine were about
gous to a cooling tower [2]. Also, as pointed out by 50% lower than those obtained in the same tower used
Sutherland, the analysis and solution of cooling towers for water cooling. In most of Norman’s experiments,
can be extended to describing the thermal behavior of latent heat exchange accounted for less than 30% of the
chilled spray dehumidifiers [3]. However, the heat and total heat transfer. Therefore, in a RUWCT, the per-
mass transfer process in a RUWCT has been identified centage for latent heat transfer is expected to differ from
to be different from that in either a standard water that in a standard water cooling tower.
cooling tower or a spray room. Norman explained the reasons for the smaller rate of
mass transfer [9]. The wetted area of the fill or packing in
2.1. A RUWCT vs a standard water cooling tower a tower may decrease when absorption of water vapor
occurs. This is associated with the change in surface ten-
Three major differences in the heat and mass transfer sion of water as it flows down along a tower. When heat
processes taking place in a RUWCT and a standard is transferred to water or water vapor condenses from
water cooling tower have been identified, as follows. moist air, water surface tension is reduced, and the water
film becomes unstable and breaks up, causing dry pat-
2.1.1. Water-side heat transfer resistance ches to appear on tower packing. A possible explanation
Previous research work on water cooling towers indi- can be that there are considerable local variations in the
cated that the water-side heat transfer resistance in a film thickness and water velocity, and the water tem-
water cooling process is small and therefore negligible. perature increases most rapidly at points where the film
Ibrahim et al. provided a model to investigate the effect of is thin and the velocity is low. This in turn sets up local
tower parameters on air and water temperature distribu- surface tension gradients which render the film unstable.
tion across air and water film thickness [4]. The results These result in a reduction in mass transfer area, so that
showed that water-film thermal resistance only caused a the latent heat transfer is reduced.
very small reduction in the interface water temperature
and had no significant effect on the water-side Nusselt 2.1.3. Increased chilled water flow
number. Gurney et al. concluded that ignoring water-film In a RUWCT, water vapor would condense from
resistance would not affect the accuracy of results in gen- moist air when it is in direct contact with the chilled
eral refrigeration and air-conditioning calculations [5]. water. If water loss by carry-over or tower blowdown is
Because water-film resistance is negligible in the ana- neglected, chilled water flow rate at tower exit is
lysis for a standard water cooling tower, a water cooling increased, because of water added from water vapor
process is primarily controlled by air-film resistance. condensation. However, in a standard water cooling
The temperature at the interface between the air and the tower, water flow rate will drop as a result of evapora-
water is considered to be approximately equal to the tion and require make-up supply to replenish the loss.
bulk water temperature. However, the extensive experi-
ments in Normans work demonstrated that when water 2.2. A RUWCT vs a spray room
vapor condenses from humid air during direct contact
with refrigerated brine, both the air-film resistance and Two differences in the heat and mass transfer environ-
water-film resistance would become significant [6]. They ment between a spray room and a RUWCT exist. Firstly
were verified to be approximately equal by Norman’s there is a fill or packing inside a RUWCT, whereas nor-
experiments. Therefore, the water-film heat transfer mally there is none in a spray room. The fill retards the
resistance should be accounted for in the analysis of rate of waterfall and increases the water surface that is
heat and mass transfer characteristics in a RUWCT. exposed to air. This would result in a higher rate of heat
and mass transfer in a RUWCT than that in a spray room.
2.1.2. Reduced latent heat exchange Secondly, the top water distributor of a RUWCT spreads
In a standard water cooling tower, water is cooled by water in a high speed in the air stream, compared to a
evaporating a portion of water and by heat exchange bundle of tubes with many nozzles in a spray room. This
with air at a lower temperature. Heat is removed mostly will allow even better contact between the two fluids in a
by latent heat exchange, through evaporation from the RUWCT than in a spray room [10].
warm water to the air. It was estimated that more than It has been shown that differences exist in heat and
80% of the total heat removed, and approximately 100% mass transfer taking place in a standard water cooling
during summer operation, is by latent heat transfer [7]. tower, a spray room and a RUWCT. Although well
K. Tan, S. Deng / International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 552–561 555

established, the standard method for the thermal per- inlet plane, and D the state of the interface at the air
formance analysis of water cooling towers may not be outlet plane.
directly used for a RUWCT. With the anticipation that Irrespective of which process takes place near the
there may be more and more applications of RUWCT bottom of a RUWCT, air cooling and dehumidification
in both tropical and sub-tropical regions, it is necessary is the dominant heat and mass exchange process, while
that a suitable method to evaluate the heat and mass the chilled water is heated.
transfer characteristics of a RUWCT be developed. Basically, the heat and mass transfer between the
ambient air and the chilled water in a RUWCT depends
on the temperature difference of the two fluids and the
3. Heat and mass transfer process in a counter-flow vapor partial pressure difference between the water
RUWCT droplet surface and the bulk air. Fig. 2 illustrates sche-
matically the heat and mass transfer process between the
At the bottom of a counter-flow RUWCT, the bulk air and the bulk water in a RUWCT.
incoming air meets ‘‘warmer’’ chilled water. Depending It is assumed that the bulk air and the bulk water are
its dew point temperature, the incoming air may experi- separated by two films: the air film and the water film.
ence two different processes in the RUWCT. The two films are further separated by the plane aa0
If the air dew-point temperature is lower than the (Fig. 2). Sensible heat transfers from the air film to the
chilled water temperature, evaporation of water vapor surface aa0 , and then to the water film, which is driven
occurs. The air will be consequently cooled but humidi- by the temperature difference between the air and the
fied first at the tower bottom. As it flows up, the humi- water, (tatw). Water vapour, and hence latent heat,
dified air will meet cooler chilled water. Within the transfer between the air and the water is by diffusion of
region in the tower where the air dew-point temperature water vapour, driven by the water vapour pressure dif-
is higher than the chilled water temperature, the air will ference between the air film and the bulk air (wawi).
be cooled and dehumidified. This air cooling and dehu-
midification process continues until the air exits from
the tower. Changes in the state of the air in this process 4. The development of the method
can be represented by the curve AB in Fig. 1. When the
dew-point temperature of the entering air is greater than As discussed, there are a number of differences in the
chilled water temperature, air will experience a cooling heat and mass transfer characteristics between a stan-
and dehumidifying process throughout the tower, as dard water cooling tower and a RUWCT. Although the
represented by the curve A0 B0 . methodologies for evaluating the thermal performance
In Fig. 1, curve PQ is the saturation line. Point C of standard water cooling towers have been well estab-
represents the temperature and humidity ratio of the lished, it is necessary that appropriate revisions to the
interface between the bulk air and bulk water at the air methodologies should be introduced when they are to be

Fig. 1. Air cooling process by direct contact with the chilled water in a counter-flow RUWCT shown in a psychrometric chart.
Fig. 1. Procédé de refroidissement d’air par contact direct avec l’eau refroidie dans une RUWCT à écoulement à contre-courant : dia-
gramme psychrométrique.
556 K. Tan, S. Deng / International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 552–561

Fig. 2. An indicative schematic diagram of heat and mass transfer between bulk air and bulk water in a RUWCT.
Fig. 2. Schéma du transfert de chaleur et de masse entre l’air en vrac et l’eau en vrac dans une RUWCT.

applied to a RUWCT. The method developed and where

reported in this paper is based on the well-known
Merkel’s equation for standard water cooling towers. Cw tw dL
F¼1 ð4Þ
For standard water cooling towers, the Merkel’s Gdha
equation is
F is a correction factor that accounts for the increase
dha am dV of chilled water flow rate at the bottom of a counter-
¼ ð1Þ
ha  hs G flow RUWCT, and is derived as follows.
A schematic diagram of a counter-flow RUWCT that
This was derived under the assumption that the water has a plastic film packing of H height, and is divided into n
side heat transfer resistance in a water cooling tower can sections is shown in Fig. 3. Under steady, adiabatic flow
be neglected and the interface temperature, ti, is conditions, for a differential control volume dV (Fig. 3)
approximately equal to tw. Therefore hs, the enthalpy of within the RUWCT, energy conservation requires
saturated air at the interface, is evaluated at tw.
However, for RUWCT application, as discussed ear-
lier, the water side heat transfer resistance is significant
and cannot be neglected, so that ti6¼tw; and hs should be
evaluated at the interface temperature, ti. Therefore, the
first revision introduced to Eq. (1) is to replace hs by hi

dha am dV
¼ ð2Þ
ha  hi G

It is assumed that the interface temperature, ti, is an

algebraic average of the bulk air temperature and the
bulk water temperature i.e. ti ¼ 12 ðta þ tw Þ:
This was initially based on the earlier discussion of
equal heat transfer resistance in both water- and air-
films in Norman’s experiments. A further detailed
analysis based on heat and mass transfer across the
interface, as shown in the Appendix, indicated such an
assumption is of acceptable accuracy[11].
The second revision introduced is that dha in Eq. (2) is
evaluated by

LCw Fig. 3. A schematic diagram of a counter-flow RUWCT.

dha ¼ dtw ð3Þ
GF Fig. 3. Schéma d’une RUWCT à écoulement à contre-courant.
K. Tan, S. Deng / International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 552–561 557

Gdha ¼ Cw dðtw LÞ ð5aÞ Cw tw dQ Cw tw

F¼1 ¼1 ð8Þ
ðr0 þ hw ÞdQT r0 þ C w t w
By definition, is the ratio of latent heat transfer to
Gdha ¼ LCw dtw þ Cw tw dL ð5bÞ the total heat transfer, which varies from plane to plane
inside the tower. It also varies with different tower con-
The second item on the right-hand side of Eq. (5b) is figurations and operational conditions of a RUWCT.
normally omitted in the analysis of standard water However, for a particular RUWCT under a specific
cooling towers. However, in a RUWCT, the chilled operating condition, an averaged  can be used in order
water flow rate change, dL, resulting from condensation to simplify the analysis of a RUWCT.
of water vapor in moist air, cannot be neglected. Divid- As discussed in the last section, the latent heat trans-
ing both sides of Eq. (5b) by Gdha, and making the fer is expected to be significantly lower in a RUWCT
right-hand side of the new equation to be the correction than that in a standard water cooling tower. The intro-
factor, F duction of  here makes it possible to quantify the
degree of reduction of latent heat transfer in a RUWCT.
LCw dtw Cw tw dL Eq. (2) can be solved by using the revised Tchebycheff
¼1 ¼F ð6Þ
Gdha Gdha quadrature method and using manufacturer’s data of a
specific tower [12].
Eq. (4) can be manipulated to Integrating both sides of Eq. (2) gives
Cw tw ðr0 þ hw ÞdL dha am V
F¼1 ð7Þ ¼ ð9Þ
ðr0 þ hw ÞGdha ha  hi G

Given that the latent and the total heat transfer are The left-hand side of Eq. (9) is the dynamic char-
given by dQb=hvdL=(r0+hw)dL and dQT=Gdha, and acteristics of tower (DCT), and the right-hand side of
let =dQb/dQT, Eq. (4) becomes Eq. (9) is the fill characteristics (FC), aGm V ; a unique

Fig. 4. The schematic diagram for a desuperheater heat recovery system with a RUWCT.
Fig. 4. Schéma d’un système à désrchauffeur avec récupération de chaleur avec une RUWCT.
558 K. Tan, S. Deng / International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 552–561

characteristic of a specific tower. FC is the function of During the period of field measurements, outdoor
L/G, expressed by weather conditions varied. Measurements at five differ-
ent outdoor air dry-bulb temperatures were taken: 11.8,
am V L 15.2, 17.5, 21.7, 25.5 C. Under each outdoor air dry-bulb
¼ Cð ÞXN ð10Þ
G G temperature, the supply chilled water flow rate to the
RUWCT was manually varied in order to obtain per-
where C and XN are constants [12, 13]. Using the formance data at different operating conditions. Five
manufacturers rating data, Eqs. (9) and (10) can be different chilled water flow rates were manually set:
solved using two different normal operating conditions 1.48, 2.22, 2.96, 3.70 and 4.44 l/s.
to determine the values of C and XN for a specific To determine the actual values of  at each chilled
RUWCT. water flow rate under a specific outdoor air temperature,
If the values of x are available either from tower man- the measured air humidity ratio (from measured air dry-
ufacturers or by experiments, Eqs. (2)–(10) can be used and wet-bulb temperature) at the tower exit was com-
together in an iterative process to calculate the outlet pared with the calculated air humidity ratio under an
water temperature tw,n, with the available inlet air states, initially assumed  value. The value of  could be mod-
dry air flow rate, inlet chilled water temperature and flow ified and the comparison repeated until the measured
rate, etc. With an initial guess for tw,n, the calculation of and calculated air humidity ratios were equal. The same
the FC and the DCT can proceed until convergence. The procedures were repeated for each chilled water flow
convergence criteria applied in the calculation is rate at a specific outdoor temperature to obtain the 
  values at all operating conditions.
FC  DCT With the availability of values of , the outlet chilled
 40:001 ð11Þ
water temperature tw,n, and the total heat exchange QA

If the criteria cannot be met in a calculation cycle, a Table 1

new guess of tw,n should be used and a new DCT is cal- Comparison of the measured and calculated results
culated. Then the iterative procedure is repeated until Tableau 1
Eq. (11) can be satisfied. After the values of tw,n are Comparaison des résultats des mesures et calculés
obtained, the extracted heat capacity, QA, and the out-
let air temperature, ta,n, can also be determined. tdb twb  tw,n tw,n0  QA QA0 
C C – C C C kW kW kW

5. Field experimental work L=1.48 l/s 11.8 10.7 0.39 8.7 8.93 0.23 10.5 10.16 0.34
15.2 13.5 0.37 10.0 10.58 0.58 21.1 19.20 1.90
17.5 16.6 0.43 12.5 12.93 0.43 36.3 33.31 2.99
Field experimental work has been carried out in a
21.7 20.7 0.53 17.6 16.02 1.58 51.3 52.93 1.63
chiller plant for a hotel building in a sub-tropical region
25.5 23.5 0.48 18.3 18.37 0.07 74.2 70.25 3.95
in China. The results of the field experimental work
helped obtain the values of , and demonstrated also L=2.22 l/s 11.8 10.7 0.43 8.6 8.86 0.26 13.8 12.72 1.08
that the method developed is of an acceptable accuracy 15.2 13.5 0.37 9.8 10.38 0.58 26.3 24.21 2.09
17.5 16.6 0.45 12.4 12.47 0.07 45.3 42.88 2.42
for the performance evaluation of a RUWCT.
21.7 20.7 0.56 17.0 15.51 1.49 66.3 67.93 1.63
A water chiller of 116.3 kW (100,000 kcal/h) total
25.5 23.5 0.48 17.9 17.54 0.36 93.8 91.75 2.05
cooling capacity, which was retrofitted with a desuper-
heater, supplied both space cooling chilled water and L=2.96 l/s 11.8 10.7 0.46 8.4 8.80 0.40 16.5 15.00 1.50
service hot water to the hotel building. The desuper- 15.2 13.5 0.38 9.7 10.29 0.59 30.4 28.69 1.71
17.5 16.6 0.48 12.4 12.18 0.22 50.2 51.10 0.90
heater, a shell-and-tube heat exchanger with appropriate
21.7 20.7 0.58 16.4 15.55 0.85 79.6 77.31 2.29
insulation, was installed outside the chiller. A standard
25.5 23.5 0.50 17.5 17.37 0.13 108.8 106.46 2.34
water cooling tower, which worked as a RUWCT, was
connected to chilled water loop in parallel with the fan L=3.70 l/s 11.8 10.7 0.41 8.5 8.84 0.34 17.7 16.30 1.4
coils. This RUWCT was operated when necessary. 15.2 13.5 0.38 9.5 10.45 0.95 31.2 30.38 0.82
17.5 16.6 0.50 12.9 12.26 0.64 60.2 55.78 4.42
The schematic diagram of the experimental site is
21.7 20.7 0.60 16.5 16.16 0.34 84.9 79.68 5.22
shown in Fig. 4. Part of chilled water from the chiller 25.5 23.5 0.55 17.6 17.63 0.03 125.3 116.93 8.37
was pumped into the RUWCT for extracting heat from
the warm humid ambient air. With the extra heat source L=4.44 l/s 11.8 10.7 0.46 8.8 9.05 0.25 17.7 15.97 1.73
from the operation of RUWCT, the desuperheater heat 15.2 13.5 0.40 9.6 10.60 1.00 35.0 31.83 3.17
17.5 16.6 0.50 13.0 12.74 0.26 56.2 55.14 1.06
recovery system can supply service hot water con-
21.7 20.7 0.60 16.8 16.40 0.40 90.1 83.15 6.95
tinuously to guestrooms in colder seasons, without
25.5 23.5 0.58 17.8 18.39 0.41 128.1 117.11 10.99
requiring any other backup heating provisions.
K. Tan, S. Deng / International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 552–561 559

Fig. 5. The  value curves obtained from field RUWCT experiments.

Fig. 5. Valeurs des courbes x obtenues sur le terrain lors des expériences menées avec des RUWCT.

could be then calculated. Table 1 list the calculated Fig. 5 illustrates the values of  at different air dry-
values of tw,n0 , and QA0 at various chilled water flow bulb temperatures and chilled water flow rates. It is seen
rates under the five different inlet air temperatures. from the diagram that  values increase with the increase
Also listed in this table are the measured tw,n, and of chilled water flow rate. On the other hand, while air
QA from field experimental work on the RUWCT. It dry bulb temperature increase,  values fluctuated,
should be noted that in Table 1, only those parameters although in general, the values of  seems to increase as
(tw,n, QA) that were not used in deriving  values were well. However, when the corresponding air relative
compared. humidity (RH) is plotted into Fig. 5, it appears that this
From Table 1, by comparing the values of calculated fluctuation is related to the changes in RH, a higher RH
and measured parameters (tw,n, and QA), it is clear that leading to a higher value of . This implies that under a
the method developed based on the Merkel’s Equation constant air dry-bulb temperature, more latent heat
can be used to evaluate the thermal performance of a transfer or more condensation of moisture when air
RUWCT with an acceptable accuracy. relative humidity is higher.
It is noted, however, that in the current study, during
the experiments the variation of air RH was not sig-
6. Discussions nificant (from 84 to 93%), so that a simpler and smoother
relationship between the  values and a single air state
From the previous sections, it is seen that the intro- parameter (e.g. air enthalpy, or absolute humidity) may
duction of  is essential to the successful development not be obtained. Improved results of  values could be
of the method for RUWCT thermal performance eva- expected if the experimental work had been carried out
luation. in a controlled environmental laboratory. It is, there-
As defined,  is the ratio of latent heat transfer to the fore, suggested that manufacturers of cooling tower
total heat transfer in a RUWCT. In the earlier discus- should produce  values under different operating con-
sion on the difference of heat and mass transfer char- dition for a particular cooling tower and include them
acteristics between a RUWCT and a standard water as part of the product inventory for future use.
cooling tower, it was stated that latent heat transfer is With the availability of  values, it is possible to fol-
expected to be lower. The actual values of  obtained low the method developed for thermal performance
from field experimental work, although varying with evaluation of a RUWCT. Key operating parameters
operating condition, ranged between 0.37 and 0.6 such as chilled water outlet temperature and the total
(Table 1). This confirmed the reduced latent heat trans- heat transfer can be calculated for system design and
fer in a RUWCT. performance evaluation.
560 K. Tan, S. Deng / International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 552–561

7. Conclusions Based on the principle of energy conservation, heat

transferred from air should be equal to the heat obtained
This paper reports on a study of the heat and mass by water, as in Fig. A1.
transfer characteristic in a RUWCT for heat recovery
purpose. The differences in heat and mass transfer process dQ ¼ hv dzdmð1Þ ðA1Þ
taking place in a RUWCT, a spray room and a standard
water cooling tower have been identified. A method by
which the heat and mass transfer characteristics in a dQ
¼ hv dm
counter-flow RUWCT can be evaluated has been devel- dz
oped. This was done by introducing to the Merkel’s
Equation for standard water cooling towers the revi- dQ ¼ k dzð1Þ ðA2Þ
sions that account for the identified differences in heat dy
and mass transfer between a water cooling tower and a or
RUWCT. Field experimental results from a RUWCT
installed in a sub-tropical region in China indicated that dQ dt
the method developed could be used to evaluate the ¼k
dz dy
thermal performance of RUWCT with an acceptable
accuracy. then
The introduction of  is important in developing the
evaluation method. The  values obtained from the field dt
hv dm ¼ k ðA3Þ
experimental work confirmed that the latent heat dy
exchange is reduced in a RUWCT.
The research work reported in this paper provides a The following approximations can be used in solving
fundamental basis for studying heat and mass transfer Eq. (A3).
characteristics in a RUWCT. However, considering that
the current work was based on field experiments, further dt ffi t ¼ ti  tw
experimental work in a controlled environmental labora- Dy ffi droplet radius=2
tory is highly recommended, in order to have an
improved accuracy of analysis of the heat and mass where the droplet diameter is 2.8 mm, so dy=0.7
transfer characteristics in a RUWCT. m [14]. dm is determined by the following equation for
the rate of water vapor transfer from the air to the
Gdw ¼ dL ¼ am ðwa  wi ÞdV ðA4Þ
The fund from The Hong Kong Polytechnic Uni-
versity to support the project is gratefully acknowledged. dm ¼ ¼ ðwa  wi Þ ðA5Þ
am dV

ti  tw
Appendix I The calculation of water-air interface tem- Therefore; hv ðwa  wi Þ  k ¼0 ðA6Þ
perature ti based on heat and mass transfer across the
interface. where wi=f(ti) and hv ffir0.
The mass transfer coefficient  was determined [15]
¼ ; where Le ¼ 1; and
Ca Le

a ¼ ; where D is hydraulic diameter; D ¼ 1:0 ðmÞ

Nu ¼ 0:023Re0:8 Pr0:3 ; where Re ¼

Fig. A1. An indicative diagram of the interface between air CMS CMS 4CMS
and u ¼ ¼ ¼ ðm=sÞ
and water. s D2 D2
Fig. A1. Schéma de l’interface entre l’air et l’eau. 4
K. Tan, S. Deng / International Journal of Refrigeration 25 (2002) 552–561 561

Table A1 It should be also noted that the validity of the results

Comparison of interface temperature using difference shown in Table A1 depends entirely on the assumed
approaches water droplet size of 2.8 mm.
Tableau 1
Comparaison entre la température à l’interface à l’aide de
différentes approches. References
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Measuring Using mean Using 
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